Button: Shame to change Fuji date for one driver

Date published: February 12 2018

Jenson Button says it is a “shame” that the WEC opted to change the date of the Fuji race just to suit Fernando Alonso.

Announcing that he would contest this year’s World Endurance Championship with Toyota along with his F1 duties, Alonso was set to miss the Japanese round of the championship as it clashed with the United States Grand Prix.

That issue, though, was quickly resolved with WEC moving the Fuji race forward by a week.

The decision has not gone down well with former F1 driver Button.

“It’s a shame that a race is changed for one driver,” he tweeted.

“The change hurts so many other drivers who have contracts in place but also other categories like IMSA and Super GT where a clash will hurt their fan base.”

Alonso only on loan to Toyota says McLaren

Date published: February 11 2018

Fernando Alonso may be racing for Toyota in the WEC, however, Zak Brown has made it clear that he belongs to McLaren and has endured that his Toyota role is “very minimised.”

This season the double F1 World Champion with contest the World Endurance Championship with Toyota while also racing in F1 with McLaren.

Such is Alonso’s star power that the Japanese round of the WEC has been moved so that it doesn’t clash with the United States F1 grand prix, meaning he can race in both.

However, Brown has stressed that while Alonso may be racing for Toyota, he remains a “McLaren driver first and foremost.”
“Fernando is effectively restricted to just driving the [Toyota] race car,” Brown told the media at the team’s Woking factory.

“So as far as commercial appearances, sponsor commitments, things of that nature, it is very minimised.

“His relationship with Toyota — he is on loan from us.

“We came to an arrangement with Toyota and that is to allow him to race the car but not to travel the globe having commercial commitments.

“[It’s] everything from minimising his travel, to any potential sponsor conflicts – Toyota don’t have many on there so there aren’t many sitting there today that are a conflict with McLaren.

“But if they do find a partner that is conflicting with McLaren, we couldn’t have Fernando walking around in competing sponsor attire.

“Also, he is a McLaren driver first and foremost, and an F1 driver. When you think of Fernando, you think of him as a McLaren F1 driver first and foremost.”

Boullier was ‘100 per cent sure’ Alonso would leave

Date published: February 10 2018

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier feared there was no way of keeping Fernando Alonso after the relationship with Honda reached tipping point.

‘Grand Prix Driver’, the four-part documentary series focusing on McLaren-Honda’s final year together, is now streaming on Amazon Prime – with fans able to go behind-the-scenes and get a closer look at the chaos going on between the pair.

After a disastrous pre-season testing last year, Boullier met with McLaren COO Jonathan Neale and revealed his fears that there was nothing they could do any more to stop Alonso from leaving the team.

“He’s going to say ‘you know what guys? Ciao bello (goodbye)’, he will not stay. I am 100 per cent sure he will not stay,” Boullier said.

“After this testing, obviously Fernando is quite p***** off. He is clearly saying ‘I may reconsider my position to race because I’m not going to survive another year like this’.

“My main worry at this time is not to have the team collapsing. I know the domino effect as well, you know.

“I mean, in this business you know how it works…when you are weak, people they come, they just poach who they want. It takes years to build an F1 team but you can kill it in six months.”

Whilst the struggles continued between McLaren and Honda, Alonso was kept happy by being allowed to compete in the Indy 500 before declaring that he would stay with the team as they start a new engine relationship with Renault.

WEC move Fuji race to avoid Alonso clash

Date published: February 9 2018

The World Endurance Championship have decided to bring the 6 Hours of Fuji race forward by a week to avoid a clash with the United States Grand Prix for Fernando Alonso.

Alonso is not only competing at Le Mans this year, but is now free to compete in all other WEC rounds this year for Toyota after series organisers confirmed the date switch in Friday’s ‘Super Season launch’.

The 6 Hours of Fuji will now be on October 12-14 which now creates a new clash with the IMSA finale at Petit Le Mans. Numerous WEC drivers were planning to compete at Petit Le Mans, but now face a decision following the announcement that Alonso is now to take part in Toyota’s race.

Alonso recently described the Toyota LMP1 car as a “rocket ship” and cannot wait to get started ahead of his Le Mans 24 Hours run in the summer.

Alonso: Toyota car is like a ‘rocket ship’

Date published: February 9 2018

Fernando Alonso is bursting with praise for the Toyota LMP1 car after getting some more time behind the wheel at a pre-season test in Aragon.

Alonso is preparing for a hectic 2018 season which will – as it stands – include racing at a majority of World Endurance Championships, a first crack at the Le Mans 24 Hours and his Formula 1 commitments with McLaren.

But, in his first official comments from the test since Toyota announced him as part of their 2018/19 line-up, Alonso is not concerned about the tough schedule and said it was a “dream come true” to drive such a “special” car.

“The car is just amazing, this machine is something very special,” Alonso said.

“I think the four-wheel drive, together with the boost of the hybrid system makes the acceleration feel like a rocket ship.

“You go out of the corners and you feel the compression of the seat and your eyes are very wide open. Any racing driver should feel that at least one time.

“To race in the best venues, the best circuits in the world like Le Mans with some of the best teams on the world like Toyota it is a privilege and a dream come true.”

Alonso is eager to get going, but knows he needs more time with the car and needs to plan well throughout the year to stop fatigue and tiredness kicking in.

He added: “I cannot wait until June but I know that before the big event I will need to do some tests because you need to prepare and to respect that race which I’ll try to do.

“I will try to be fit, to be fully prepared, to travel efficiently and be ready.”

Toyota have also released footage of Alonso in action for them.

What would be your dream Formula 1 line-up?

With the off-season still in full swing, there has been plenty of time to head into our own Formula 1 dream world. PlanetF1 readers have been picking their fantasy line-ups.

You can join the discussion here or let us know in comments section below what your ideal team would look like.

If you have anything else F1-related that you want to get off your chest, you can also e-mail us at PlanetF1@planetsport.com

Hamilton and Ricciardo?

I was having this discussion with a couple of mates about creating your own F1 team, out of the current crop.
You get to choose:

Two Drivers (this would have to be a realistic pairing that could work together)
Team Principal
Livery Colours (up to 3 colours)
Engine Supplier
Race Engineer

I went with:

Hamilton / Ricciardo
Christian Horner
Chrome / Black / Red
Mercedes
Peter Bonnington

Whereas one of my mates went for:

Alonso / Sainz Jr
Toto Wolff
Red / White
Ferrari
Rob Smedley

Thoughts? Yours?

Olly-44

Engine a no-brainer

Drivers: Alonso & Ricciardo
Team Principal: Christian Horner
Colours: Blue & White (Ecurie Ecosse or Border Reivers Racing colours)
Engine: Mercedes
Race Engineer: Peter Bonnington

If I wanted to go the No.1 driver route I’d switch out Ricciardo for Di Resta to get some Scottish presence on the grid and a solid point scorer otherwise I think Dan can work well next to a competitive driver like Alonso. I like Bono’s style and Horner’s BS can keep the press busy. Engine’s a no-brainer.

Lotus49

Bottas out, Vandoorne in

Drivers: Hamilton Vandoorne.

Hamilton for the here and now, Vandoorne because I think he is as unthreatening to Hamilton personality wise as Bottas is in real life, but has a higher potential ceiling of performance which would be handy.

Team Principal: Christian Horner

An intelligent yet disingenuous weasel of a man… exactly the kind of guy you want on your side in the murky world of F1 politics. Plays the game as well as anyone, and I don’t doubt that he is a racer at heart too.

Colours: Red and White with Gold trim in places (think Lotus)

Engine: Mercedes

Absolute no brainer here, no other lump matches performance with this level of reliability (yet).

Race Engineer: Rob Smedley

Yeah its a demotion for him but I reckon I could swing it

Flash2k11

Perez and Ocon: the perfect wing men

I’ll take this as two questions. One is for who I would want in order to win right now. The other is who would I want for the next 10 years. For right now; my choices would be:

Drivers: Hamilton & Perez
Team Principal: Christian Horner
Colours: Black/Gold
Engine: Mercedes
Race Engineer: Guillaume Rocquelin

For the next decade, I would go:

Drivers: Verstappen & Ocon
Team Principal: Christian Horner
Colours: Black/Gold
Engine: Mercedes
Race Engineer: Guillaume Rocquelin

I would not attempt to team two elite drivers. I think in F1 that tends to work against you to some extent and it’s much better to have one top tier guy and another driver who is consistent and quick but not quite on par with your top guy.

Hamilton is the best in the world currently for my money but I think he will retire within the next 4-5 years so if I knew I could have any driver for the next decade, I would have to go with Max.

For me, Max is clearly the best of the under-25 crowd and in fact once you get younger than Ricciardo (who is now 28 believe it or not) there is no other driver in the conversation with Max.

We’ll have to see how Leclerc performs but Max is in a league of his own amongst the youngsters at the moment.

Both Perez and Ocon strike me as ideal #2 drivers on top teams.

I think the collisions are primarily owed to neither of them wanting to back down from the other guy but against a superior opponent.

I look at both of their excellent track records of consistent points finishes and I think that they would be ideal wing-men.

Sandman1347

History boys

Hamilton / Alonso

In their current mature state, with a mature no nonsense taking person at the helm, they could be kept in check and if that person is clever enough they can manipulate them into believing they could rewrite the history books and slide in alongside Prost & Senna as the greatest duo of all time.

Plus added incentivized bonuses can also contribute to civilized existence.

The Incubus (No reason I couldn’t do it since I’m building myself a team!)

Red / White / Blue

Renault

I agree for parity – should Honda right the ship they’d be my #1… ALWAYS

Peter Bonnington

Keeping in mind his EPIC Blunder at Monaco & a few calls where Lewis questioned it correctly

James Allison

Added 1 more to the list because I feel engineers in this day and age have reared their heads in this ever evolving game of chess and James would be the guy I’d want to hire.

F1 MERCENARY

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McLaren: Alonso can win a third World title

Date published: February 6 2018

Zak Brown firmly believes Fernando Alonso can win a third World title but McLaren need to give him a car that gives him a chance.

Alonso last won a World title back in 2006 with Renault before finishing runner-up three times with Ferrari.

The lack of a third championship crown prompted a move to McLaren in 2015, however, that has been anything but successful given their troubles with the Honda power unit.

This season McLaren will instead race with Renault engines with Brown believing they are on course for a much-improved season.

“I think we’re going to be good. We’re going to be back towards the front of the field and hopefully fighting for podiums,” he said in an interview with Spanish daily AS.

As for whether a third title awaits Alonso, the McLaren chief replied: “Yeah. As long as we can get a car that gives him a chance, I think as a driver he’s certainly as capable as anyone of winning the world championship. He’s driving as well as he’s ever driven.”

He added: “His talent is second to none in the car. But I think the real difference is [that] his preparation, dedication, passion and focus outside of the race car is unlike any other driver I’ve ever seen.

“I was never around Michael Schumacher, but from what I hear, and how he carried himself, Michael had that level of dedication, and Ayrton Senna. Some other drivers can’t hold their focus and passion that long. And he’s very special in that manner.”